WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Gary Peters (D-Mich.) today introduced bipartisan legislation that aims to improve health outcomes and reduce health care costs for individuals at risk for diabetes and save long-term care costs for Medicare. The Preventing Diabetes in Medicare Act would extend Medicare coverage for medical nutrition therapy services to Americans with pre-diabetes and risk factors for developing type-2 diabetes. This legislation is similar to the bill they have previously introduced. Under current law, Medicare will only cover medical nutrition therapy services for individuals already diagnosed with diabetes or renal disease.

“With one of the highest rates of adult diabetes in the nation and a considerable population at risk for the disease, West Virginia is no stranger to its costs and challenges,” Senator Capito said. “With diabetics spending more than twice as much more out-of-pocket on health care, it’s important that Congress take the necessary steps to combat the spread of this disease and contain costs. I’m proud to partner with Senator Peters in introducing this legislation that will help stem the growing rate of diabetes and reduce the Medicare dollars being spent on it.”

“I am proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation with Senator Capito that will expand critical health services to Michiganders and Americans with prediabetes or at risk of developing type-2 diabetes,” said Senator Peters. “By investing in preventative care for diabetes, at-risk individuals can potentially see lower health care costs, live longer and healthier lives and we can achieve significant savings for taxpayers. I hope the Senate will consider and pass this legislation soon.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there are over 84 million adults with pre-diabetes, including nearly half of all seniors over age 65. Research released by the American Diabetes Association last year found that the total estimated cost of diagnosed diabetes was $327 billion, including $237 billion in direct medical costs. The American Diabetes Association also reported that people with diagnosed diabetes have annual medical expenditures of $16,752 a year, including $9,601 attributed to diabetes. On average, people with diabetes have medical expenditures that are 2.3 times higher than what costs would be without diabetes. The American Journal of Managed Care reported that one out of every three dollars spent on Medicare is directed toward diabetes-related care.

Nationally, approximately 30 million Americans have diabetes. According to the CDC, approximately 260,000 West Virginians—or 15.8 percent of the adult population—are currently living with diabetes.

“The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals, commends U.S. Senators Gary Peters and Shelley Moore Capito for reintroducing the Preventing Diabetes in Medicare Act in the Senate,” said Terri Raymond, President, Academy of Nutrition and Diabetics. “This important legislation would allow Medicare beneficiaries to receive coverage of medical nutrition therapy for prediabetes, helping millions of Americans receive the services they need and reducing the massive number of people newly diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes each year.”

“Medical nutrition therapy is a valuable service for the millions of people with diabetes but it also has the potential to provide tremendous benefits to the 84 million with prediabetes,” said Karin Gillespie, co-Chair, Diabetes Advocacy Alliance. “The Diabetes Advocacy Alliance has long supported the Preventing Diabetes in Medicare Act and we commend Senators Peters and Capito for their leadership on this issue in the Senate.”

Senator Capito has worked and continues to work to reduce health care costs for families in West Virginia and across the country. This week, Senator Capito joined bipartisan colleagues in introducing the Patient-Centered Outcome Research Institute Reauthorization Act, a bill to reauthorize the independent non-profit corporation established to save Americans money on their health care costs and help patients better understand their diagnostic and treatment options. Senator Capito continues to lead efforts to prohibit pharmacy fees, which impact seniors prescription drug costs and hurt small businesses, and she was proud to join her colleagues to ban the inclusion of pharmacy “gag clauses,” which restricted pharmacy providers from providing certain pricing information to enrollees. 

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